Hamilton, Ontario: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has appealed to the Canadian lawmakers to develop a bipartisan approach for the promotion and protection of human rights of Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
The President made this appeal to the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons while addressing a Kashmir Conference at Hamilton, Canada, organized here by the Pakistan Business Association of Hamilton.
The Conference was also addressed by Scott Duvall, Member of Canadian Parliament from Hamilton Mountain, Ken Stone of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, Mr. Chris Macleod of Cross Border Litigation Group, and Dr. Zafar Bangash, Chairman of the Friends of Kashmir Committee. A large number of Canadian and Pakistani-Kashmiri-Canadians, including politicians, businessmen, lawyers, academics, students and media-persons attended the conference.
President Masood Khan especially urged the Human Rights Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons to take note of the report on the human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir recently released by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, discuss it and support its recommendations. He highlighted two of the reports’ recommendations, namely, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the Human Rights Council to ascertain facts on the ground and repeal of two draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act.
Sardar Masood Khan said that the world must break the cycle of appeasement of India. While the world, especially the western countries knew full well that Indian occupation forces were on a murderous campaign in the IOK and were committing crimes against humanity there, the majority of the western nations had chosen to be silent on the issue or look the other way.
“This encourages and rewards impunity in IOK and is tantamount to complicity in the Indian crimes”, said President Khan.
The President said that the support of the Canadian civil society and the Human Rights Organizations would also develop a sharper focus on the horrible human rights situation in the Occupied Territory.
President Khan said that Canada had a long history of supporting a democratic solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council. General A. G. L. McNaughton, in his capacity as the President of the Security Council in December 1949 had given a formula for a free and impartial plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir to determine the freely expressed will of its inhabitants. Moreover, he said that Canada has held a plebiscite in Quebec and is not apprehensive of such a democratic process. Finally, he thanked Canada for its support for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
President Masood Khan said that Burhan Wani’s martyrdom has given the leadership of the peaceful Kashmir struggle for their right to self-determination to the Kashmiri Youth. Today, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris are campaigning against the Indian repression to attain freedom and realization of their right to self-determination.
Burhan Wani’s legacy for fighting for freedom, he said, lives on two years down the road and will continue to reverberate in the valleys and mountains of Kashmiris until freedom is won by the Kashmiris.
Scott Duvall, MP, said that he would take back President Khan’s suggestion for focus on Human Rights Council’s Kashmir report in the Human Rights Committee of the House of Commons
Chris Macleod said the recent report of the Human Rights Council raises concern over the rule of law and self-determination in the Occupied Kashmir. He endorsed the idea that more attention must be given to the human right’s situation in IOK and in this regard the Human Rights Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons should play a role. He said that equal attention should be given to the violation of international humanitarian law in IOK.
Ken Stone said that the Kashmir Conference has been convened to hear the cries of the Kashmiris struggling against denial of self-determination in IOK. He said that in early 2017 he had visited Azad Kashmir and had found it to be truly free. In Azad Kashmir, unlike IOK, there was no presence of the Army in cities and towns, no gun-toting soldiers, no barricades and no sign of the people of AJK being repressed. On the other hand, the situation in IOK was alarming because of massive human rights violations and brutal repression.
He shared a long list of human rights violations occurring in IOK and warned the audience about the possibility of a war. Kashmir, he said, was a long-festering sore between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India, and if this dispute (of Kashmir) is not resolved, the situation could escalate and result in a devastating war which would render the entire globe uninhabitable as a consequence of a nuclear war which would know no borders. He also expressed concern over frequent ceasefire violations across the Line of Control since January 2018.
Stone said that the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Kashmir should be given close attention as it is a document of one of UN’s official organs and not a document prepared by human rights organizations or peace activists. He called for wide dissemination of this report and urged politicians and the media of Canada to follow up on the recommendations of the report. He also suggested that human rights activists should hold meetings with the editorial boards of media organizations to highlight the content of this report; and urged members of the Canadian Parliament to pay attention to the recommendations of the report and stop pleasing India.
Ken Stone said that there was no need to invent a new formula for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The solution given by the UN Security Council mandating a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to determine their political future was the most viable, prudent and practicable dispensation. Mr. Ken Stone said that occupation is a crime from Kashmir to Palestine.